Last month he promised to join forces with Parramatta Council and commit $8.5million to improve Hill Road – the only thoroughfare leading in and out of the peninsula – which is flooded when it rains and lacks safe crosswalks. Morning queues are a source of anxiety, and residents say there are frequent accidents and near-misses.
The Coalition failed to deliver on Labor’s promise, but this week revealed plans for a $100million upgrade of the famous nearby Homebush Bay Drive roundabout, in partnership with the state government. The funding was first announced during the 2019 election.
Ankita Saxena, who has lived in Wentworth Point for six years with her husband Pratik, and Anna, now two, says improving the road would be a selling point. “If they are going to fix it, it will definitely be important in the election. This road means a lot. Many accidents happen.
But it will take more than a few repairs to keep his family in the area. The population has increased, but Saxena says the frequency of public transport has not kept pace and buses are filling up quickly.
Developer Billbergia built the Bennelong Bridge to connect Wentworth Point to Rhodes by sea and now runs a shuttle service carrying residents to the station every fifteen minutes during peak hours, in addition to public buses.
But the bridge, which has a cycle and pedestrian path, cannot be used by cars. Commuters travel an additional seven kilometers around the Olympic Park to reach the same area.
Then there is the issue of schools. Wentworth Point Public School opened in 2018 overlooking the Parramatta River, but it already has too many pupils for its size; its utilization rate increased from 50% in 2018 to 117% last year.
The school is built for 400 children but had 557 enrolled by 2021; he makes do with several knockdown buildings and has more on the way.
A vacant block next door is set aside for a secondary school for Wentworth Point and surrounding suburbs. It wasn’t supposed to be this way: the state government originally planned land in Olympic Park for the secondary school, which will include this high-growth area as well as Concord West in its watershed.
But now Olympic Park High School has been moved to Wentworth Point, where residents hoped the land would be used for a rare plot of parkland.
Instead, the six-story high school will accommodate 1,500 students from across the region at the edge of the peninsula. Residents fear that the students will make Hill Road’s traffic problem worse; the education department predicts that they will walk, cycle or use buses. The department also says the school’s play space will be accessible to the public outside of school hours.
Meanwhile, the children of Wentworth Point spent the school holidays playing football or riding scooters in unused car parks and drawing with chalk on the asphalt.
“It’s a perfect place to live if you are a small family or a couple. It’s a very seaside lifestyle, very lively, you can walk around at any time without security problems,” explains Sexana.
“But we will have to plan to leave this area once [Anna] start school. This will be the only reason we will leave. The area is really good, so we can compromise now. But definitely, once she’s six or seven, you can’t compromise. [on school and transport].”
According to 2016 census data, approximately half of Wentworth Point’s population are families, and many are of Chinese, Korean, and Indian descent. Domain data shows that the median apartment price ranges from $575,000 for a one-bedroom unit to just over $1 million for a three-bedroom unit.
Several residents have formed an action group to advocate for better infrastructure.
“It’s the changing face of Sydney. No one lives in a house here, everyone is in a unit,” says group manager Mark Green, who bought the plan in 2017 to retire with his partner.
“Most people in our experience love the area because of its proximity to Homebush Bay and Olympic Park. The original activation compound and the 2014 deal had all the schools, roads, transportation, everything else. But the fact that the promised infrastructure has not been delivered is a major problem.
“Students are bussing to Concord High, which is packed. There is potential for a beautiful park [on the peninsula]the land is still there but the state government has changed its mind [and moved the high school to that site in Wentworth Point].
” It is a beautiful place. That’s what kept people going, hoping the infrastructure will come. But I think now the frustration is boiling over.
Wentworth Point voting booths tend towards the Liberal Party, although Liberal MP Fiona Martin in the last election suffered a 3.74 per cent swing against her.
This year Labor first candidate Sally Sitou is leading a grassroots campaign in Reid that has focused heavily on Wentworth Point and its missing infrastructure.
Mother-of-two Juliana Lee says she really wants Hill Road level crossings as promised by Labor but doesn’t think it’s enough to win her vote.
Despite all her problems, she says Wentworth Point is still ‘the best place to live’.
“You can take a long walk, [it’s] friendly dog. We walk across the bridge, it’s great for small families,” she says.
Her son Ashton, 7, started kindergarten at the local school in 2020 but now attends school in Concord while her youngest, 2, attends daycare at Olympic Park.
Lee’s 45-minute drive around the area to drop them off starts at 8 a.m. each morning to avoid traffic, but she’s used to it by now.
“Honestly, I don’t think it will be fixed. It’s gonna get worse over time with high school and apartments. I hope we will move by then,” she said.
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